Learn about the changes in Australian gambling after the IGA
Australia is one of the countries where gambling and betting entertainments were part of the culture for long years. Only recently has the government provided changes to legislation that severely limit gambling activities in terms of both playing and also operating a business in this niche. In order to make head or tail of the numerous nuances connected to gambling and betting in Australia, one has to know exactly what is allowed, and what is not.
It seems that the country tightens the screws on gambling literally every year, as new rules are added to the main legal regulation. To avoid legal issues, to find only the best platforms for gambling, and to play for real money and for pleasure, make sure you know all ins and outs of gambling in Australia.
History of Australian gambling before 2001
It is generally believed that most gambling entertainment were brought to Australia by the Chinese immigrants, but this is only partially true. In reality, most European immigrants enjoyed betting on horse racing, and also card games, almost since the dawn of modern Down-under.
Australia, besides all, was a country rich in gold-bearing zones, so many risky Americans and Europeans came here in search of profit. They brought the thrill of the race with them, and passion to table games as well. As a result, the general picture was that poorer strata of population played table games, including those brought by the Chinese, in small private bars and pubs, while richer people enjoyed horse racing and played cards on private parties.
The first official land based casino was opened in 1973 in Tasmania, after the country received the right to issue their gaming license. After this one successful facility, other casinos started to emerge.
As soon as the World Wide Web became developed enough to facilitate online casinos, which happened closer to 2000, local businesses started to explore their literally endless possibilities in this sphere. In contrast to offline market, the segment of digital casinos was not yet researched properly (let alone regulated). This created jaw dropping opportunities both for legitimate businesses and for fraud alike.
Yet, the government of Australia quickly got its direction, and in 2001, issued the Interactive Gambling Act that has changed the course of development of this industry in the country.
The Interactive Gambling Act
The Interactive Gambling Act, or IGA, was passed by the government of Australia in summer of year 2001, and addressed mainly virtual operators offering casino games and betting to local players. While land-based operators were properly regulated by the local authorities - each state and territory having its own agency - illegal virtual venues became the whole country’s problem.
IGA, however, is one of the genius examples of pretty artful legislation. The govt was already aware of the benefits the country can get from the gaming industry in terms of huge taxes imposed on it. Moreover, obviously with time (and development of technologies), online games could become more popular and more attractive than offline venues. So, instead of banning all the virtual gaming altogether (which is a very unpopular step and a hard one to organize technically), and also instead of trying to manage regulations that promised to become even more complicated with every year, the government did the following thing.
According to IGA of 2001, local businesses in the industry are allowed to operate on the territory of the country, but they are not allowed to advertise their services to locals, and provide real money playing to locals. Their target audience can be only citizens located outside of Down-under. Locals, on the other hand, are allowed to reach out to overseas online casinos to play, for fun or for real money. Offshore operators are also not allowed to advertise and promote their services to Aussies.
All responsibility for violating the IGA is only responsibility of individual casino operators. Average citizens are never persecuted for gaming online with any operator whatsoever.
Changes brought by the IGA
After the implementation of the Interactive Gambling Act, the situation in the industry has changed. First of all, surprisingly, land based houses experienced a temporary boost of popularity, because the virtual business sector needed time to re-format their approach. As a result, people visited offline venues. This helped the govt to collect some statistic data.
Secondly, the country continued to receive taxes from all the venues located on its territory, but had less issues with licenses and protection of the citizens from fraud, because locals could not gamble at national web casinos, and therefore, any fraud was the fault of an overseas operator accepting Aussie players, and it was every user’s personal responsibility to avoid fraud.
Thirdly, having less trouble with legal issues, the government continued to gather statistical data to get fuller picture of the trends and patterns.
As for local players, they are motivated by the govt to visit land based venues instead of online ones. This approach suggests legitimacy, more legal protection from fraud, more control over the operators, and more statistics. While the popularity of virtual betting still continues to grow, people simply learn to find reliable and reputable overseas casinos for real money play.
Currently, Australia is one of the most gaming nations in the world. Gambling and betting activities are generally allowed, but every state and territory has its own vision and rules considering certain activities and games. As a result, some games and entertainments are more popular in some places than in others.
Despite the fact that locals spend huge sums of money on casino games, and also win huge sums as well, gambling is legally considered an entertainment and not a source of regular income (even if in fact it is!), which means players do not pay income tax. Gambling age is as anywhere else - 18 years.
Offline gambling and betting
In terms of land based facilities, Australia is a perfect place for gamesmen. There are around 60 casinos in different states, most of them situated in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. There are 29 horse tracks, 15 official poker rooms, eight bingo halls, and five sportsbooks, plus different lotteries. Any citizen can play casino games or make bets at these venues, legally, and without any issues.
Online gambling is wildly popular among Aussies; this most gambling nation in the world plays mostly online. While there are local operators of this niche, they provide their services to overseas customers, while locals are forced to play only at foreign web casinos. The govt hopes that lack of legal protection will keep the local gamesmen away from foreign platforms, but there are enough reliable, reputable, and properly licensed online casinos out there that accept Aussie gamesmen and meet all modern security and honesty standards.
Problem Gambling is the reason of such strict regulations, and the consequence at the same time. One of the reasons why Australian government issued the IGA in 2001 was concern about mental health and potential addiction to gaming; motivating people to play offline, the authorities hoped to get a better grasp of the situation.
Yet, the possibilities opened by high-speed Internet turned out to be more attractive, and thousands of Aussie gamesmen reach out for casino games online, which makes regulation of problem gambling more complicated. Problem Gambling is one of the main issues in the niche today, with authorities trying to find the best way to prevent addiction and other consequences.